The Sunshine Blog: Take Our Post-Session Quiz. Are You A Capitol Insider Or A Confused Outsider? - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Short takes, outtakes, observations and other stuff you should know about public information, government accountability and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

Questions that must be asked: Journalists are trained observers. We observe a lot of things that don’t necessarily make it into stories. We also get bored, especially during conference committee when we, like many lawmakers, are left to wander the hallways with nothing to do.

But fear not, Blog Fans. We put our down time to good use and came up with this little quiz to see who was paying attention — and who wasn’t but should’ve been — during the 100-plus days of the 2023 legislative session.

Answers at the end. Don’t peek. Pretend they are the fiscal year 2024 state budget that you won’t be able to see until, well, later.

1.) Which lawmaker voted to confirm his own cousin as the new director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources?

2.) “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” exclaimed which lawmaker upon realizing he was not actually supposed to be leading this particular conference committee?

3.) How many stairs must one climb when the elevators are so slow that one runs out of patience to get from the legislative chambers in the basement to the fifth floor where the governor’s office is located?

circular peeling sticker cartoon of a question mark
Were you paying attention as closely as you should have been these last five months? (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

4.) Who does one see for a biometric finger scan in order to use the elevators that are not jammed with the unlucky people who don’t have a biometric clearance?

5.) Which lawmaker continues to perform a jump rope routine to the theme music of “Hawaii Five-0” more than a dozen years after that dazzling display of talent helped win her the title of Miss Hawaii 2011?

6.) Which lawmaker is such a big fan of Bruddah Iz he played a video of the legendary musician’s music on his phone during a break in conference committee?

7.) Which lawmaker’s mom is also a current state senator?

8.) After starting at $30 million, how much money was included in the final version of the public financing for elections bill (before it was ultimately axed)?

9.) What issue was deemed to be so important this year that lawmakers approved five duplicative measures on the subject and shepherded all of them all the way through conference committee? Hints: HB 1359, HB 973, SB 516, SB 655 and SB 637.

10.) How many bills were introduced? How many made it through?

11.) Which measure went up in smoke after it got four committee referrals including one to a money committee when it needed no money?

12.) Which senator simultaneously voted both no and yes on a recreational marijuana bill?

13.) Rep. Kanani Souza is cousin to which state administrator who works with youth?

14.) Which House freshman likes to quote from the Bible on the floor?

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15.) Who’s the longest-serving legislator?

16.) Where’s the best place for a pau hana at the Capitol?

17.) How many bills introduced by the Republican minority caucuses actually passed?

18.) What is the estimate to repair the Hawaii State Capitol reflecting pools?

19.) How many new members are there in the House of Representatives?

20.) Which Senate committee approved a bill to extend the excise tax surcharge for rail to raise more money before realizing it had made a mistake?

Illustration of Hawaii capitol
Illustration by Kalany Omengkar/Civil Beat


1.) That would be Sen. Brenton Awa who dutifully reported before the floor confirmation vote that DLNR chair Dawn Chang is his cousin. No conflict, intoned Senate President Ron Kouchi, adding “well, if we were going by cousins we wouldn’t be able to vote on anything.”

2.) That would be Rep. David Tarnas. The term “Heavens to Murgatroyd” was made famous by a cartoon character called Snagglepuss. That was in the 1960s cartoon show “Yogi Bear” that some of you may be old enough to remember.

3.) The House and Senate chambers are on the basement level of the Capitol (marked as “Chamber” on the elevator buttons). From there to the top floor where the governor is: 161 steps. But you can’t actually get to the second, third, fourth and fifth floors from the chamber level, as the stairway disconnects at the ground level marked “Courtyard.” The stairwell doors are locked from the outside, so to get from first floor or chamber level to any other floor you have to take the elevator. So much for E Komo Mai.

4.) You’ve got to get your biometrics set up with either the House or Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. The biometric system has been in place for a number of years, but there was a time when visitors could much more easily access the Capitol.

5.) Rep. Lauren Cheape Matsumoto was a four-year Division I scholar-athlete, playing Wahine (Women’s) Water Polo. Who knew? After graduating from the University of Hawaii, she went on to win the title of Miss Hawaii and represented the state at the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas. The jump-rope factoid is just one of many interesting things you can learn about Matsumoto on her legislative bio page.

6.) Republican Sen. Kurt Fevella. He was working as a school custodian at James Campbell High School in Ewa Beach at the time of his election.

7.) Rep. Micah Aiu is the son of Sen. Donna Mercado Kim. Aiu worked for Congressman Robert Brady from Philadelphia and Sen. Mazie Hirono when she was in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is a member of the 2023 freshman class of Hawaii lawmakers.

8.) $700,000. But who’s counting?

9.) Commercial hemp cultivation. House Bill 1359, which repeals redundant regulations on hemp production to reduce costs for farmers, awaits the governor’s approval. “The legislature finds that hemp is a high-value crop that has the potential to bring significant and diverse revenues to Hawaii,” the bill explains.

Hand drawn funny sun icon vector illustration over white background. Happy smiling yellow sun in headphones and sunglasses listening to music
You kind of had to be there at the Hawaii Legislature this year. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

10.) The House of Representatives introduced 1,514 bills, of which 144 passed. The Senate introduced 1,618, of which 136 passed.

11.) Senate Concurrent Resolution 85, which passed its single Senate committee referral but was referred to no less than four committees in the House, including the House Finance Committee, even though there was no dollar amount involved. SCR 85, which called for a working group to research medical and adult use of cannabis, went nowhere in the House, which also didn’t bother with a Senate bill to allow for recreational marijuana.

12.) Brenton Awa. He went into the hearing planning to vote against Senate Bill 375, but he changed his mind when he learned the bill wouldn’t pass without his support. He wanted to keep it alive in the hopes that provisions he does support could eventually be added in. The bill died.

13.) Mark Kawika Patterson, Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility.

14.) Rep. Elijah Pierick, who completed a 2020 Master of Divinity: Chaplaincy Program (4.0 GPA) at Pacific Rim Christian University, Honolulu, Hawaii.

15.) Sen. Les Ihara has served in the Legislature since 1987. There are no term limits at the Legislature, unlike for county councils, mayors and prosecutors as well as the governor and lieutenant governor.

16.) The speaker’s office in Room 431. You are advised to bring your own shot glass.

17.) None of the 15 bills introduced by the House Minority Caucus passed. The Senate’s two Republicans could not agree on a minority leader and so did not introduce any bills as part of a caucus.

18.) About $33.5 million. The pools chronically leak and smell. Drain the swamp. Please.

19.) The 51-member House has 18 new members, which include 16 that were elected and two others who were appointed to replace Jimmy Tokioka and Ryan Yamane when they went to work for the Green administration.

20.) The Senate Ways and Means Committee. Chair Donovan Dela Cruz called it an “oversight,” and WAM later deferred the measure.

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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.

Latest Comments (0)

Good to know! 'Sorry to learn about some of them. But regarding #18,'hope they can find a way to landscape with Native Hawaiian plants instead. I see native pili grasses at newer UH campus devt or structures, they

Ca · 6 months ago

Absolutely important that one is good at jump roping to be an effective Legislator. Did notice that the Minority Caucus didn't pass any bills.

marilynlee · 6 months ago

· 6 months ago

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